It may be due to jamming the ship holding you down, breaking tackle, and warping off before the big guns arrive. Or it may force your foe to run themself, due to constant damage being applied. Sometimes the right drone may even let you catch prey. It’s reported web drones were at play when this pricey Laelaps got caught and destroyed.
There are a couple situations you should think about when picking a drone. The first one is of course what is the intended use of your ship? Is it for PvE or PvP?
In PvE you obviously want to avoid PvP and remove NPCs from the grid asap. Usually one would use the drone that deals the most suitable damage type for the job. Especially for smaller targets, while your big main weapon system will deal with the bigger ships. So far so good. Often that’s as many light drones as your hull can muster. Easy enough. But what if you find yourself in a PvP situation?
When you get tackled in no matter what circumstances there are multiple ways how a set of drones may safe you:
- Jamming the tackler with Hornet EC-300 or Vespa EC-600 drones.
This will make the other ship lose the lock on you, and prevent it from holding you down. Now is the time to initiate that warp you have prepared the alignment for.
- Forcing the tackler off by damaging them.
A set of light drones may achieve this – if your drones can keep up with your aggressor. A fairly standard T2 fitted Malediction can rather easily reach 5.000m/s velocity and will probably orbit you at around 4.500m/s when it’s long-pointing a target.
That means your drones would need to be able to catch up to it, or they would just never deal any damage. Minmatar Warriors are the overall fastest light drone available. They have a top speed of 5.040m/s and should be able to constantly chip away on most orbiting Interceptors. While a Malediction may be able to rep against the incoming damage for a while with an active armor repairer, it will likely not be able to sustain this for long. The capacitor on Interceptors is not very generous. You might not kill someone tackling you with a set of light drones, but you might be able to force him off of you.
Just don’t use Hobgoblins for this job. Yes, they might do the most damage on paper, but with a top speed of only 3.360m/s for the T2-variant, they will have a hard time getting within shooting range.
For that purpose, I would recommend Warriors or Acolytes.
If you go intentionally into a PvP situation you also want to think about what drones to bring.
In Prolonged PvP
- Reactive Armor Hardeners are a thing in armor-brawling ships. Them adapting to your main source of damage is bad. While you can counter this with some weapon systems like missiles and projectile turrets, where you can split the launchers/turrets and load different ammunition, you can not do that for the others. Lasers will always deal a mix of EM and Thermal while Hybrid turrets will have their damage in Thermal and Kinetic, and Entropic Disintegrators always do Thermal mixed with Explosive damage.
- How it’s working: The Reactive Armor Hardener takes all damage done each cycle of the module and adapts the number of times it got hit with a certain damage type and adjusts its resistances towards the ones that were hitting it the most. Not the damage types that hit it the hardest, but those which did hit more often.
- On an armor-brawling Proteus with blasters, for example, I would bring Amarr drones for their EM-damage. On one hand, they offer me an option to punch into the shields of a shield-tanked target, while on an armor-tanked ship with a Reactive Armor Hardener, they would help me drive up the EM-resistances instead of the Kinetik/Thermal ones. These I want to have as low as possible to get the maximum effect out of my blasters.
- More examples of what drone types I would favor on what ships. Of course, this is also a lot of personal taste.
- Omen: 5x Warriors
- Omen Navy Issue: 5x Warriors, 5x EC-300
- Osprey Navy Issue: 5x Acolytes
- Stabber / Stabber Fleet Issue: 5x Acolytes, because with T2 ammo you will do plenty of Explosive and Kinetic damage. It’s good to have it accompanied by a faster drone that does a different kind.
- Vedmak: 5x Acolytes, 5x EC-600
- ECM-drones have the ability to take one key ship out of the fight for a while. Like the solo logi keeping that one ship alive under your fire. Jam their logi and you may get the kill. Especially effective against T1 ships with a weaker sensor strength.
- Webbing drones are a bit weird. Like all E-War drones, they are only T1 and rather easy to destroy because of low hit points. But in special situations where you really need to catch up to someone, they may be worth bringing. For example when you want to fly a brawler in the Abyssal Proving Grounds where the current meta are kiting ships. Then a set of webbing drones may be enough to get you within range of your opponent.
- Energy Neutralization, Target Painting, and Sensor Damping drones are in a rather weird spot as well. They can make sense to bring in a bigger concept of a gang, but usually, it’s much more effective to bring a ship that is tailored for that task that uses active modules. E-War drones also tend to be very squishy. Two to three cycles of a smart bomb may destroy them.
- Logistic drones are great. A set of light armor bots can handily restore the hp-pool of a tackle frigate that flew a bit too close to the sun, even if it’s a shield fleet. Your tacklers will be thankful. Apart from such a scenario, they are often used in tournament settings. And they can prolong the life of a ship for quite a while. Some hulls can also get a bonus on their repair amount. But usually, you want to have a very clear idea of the scenario you are going in before bringing logi-drones.
Ready to Learn More about Drones?
Then check out the following guide diving deeper into details and the many nuances that come with drones. After reading that, you will also understand what drone is good to use against which target.